Cruise News Shorts: A New Cruise Tax in Galveston, A Fee Rollback on Royal & Other Cruise News

January 3, 2014

(12:31 p.m. EST) -- Every week we catch wind of so much cruise news, we don't always know what to do with it all, but a few standout bits sometimes catch our attention. Here are some interesting cruise tidbits we think you might like to know about.

Galveston Says, Pay Up

Duty-free shopping isn't duty free anymore if you're disembarking a cruise in Galveston now that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has begun charging importation taxes on all alcohol and cigarette purchases made by cruise passengers during their cruises. The tax applies to purchases made at foreign ports of call as well as at onboard duty-free shops. Tax collection points will be set up in terminal 1 and 2 at the Galveston port near where cruisers come through the U.S. Customs secondary checkpoint. Passengers can pay the tax with either cash or credit card. In fall 2014, the Commission will begin collecting the same tax from cruise passengers returning to Houston-Bayport.

A Jamaican Upgrade, Mon

The Ocho Rios cruise port will receive $400 million worth of upgrades this year, which will spruce up the terminal, pier and parking lot. Slated for completion in phases by October 2014, the improvements will also add retail kiosks for local vendors and reconstruct Turtle River Road, which leads from the terminal to Main Street. Local officials say the goal is to have the finished product be a bit more like Falmouth, another cruise port in Jamaica.

Keep the Towel?

Royal Caribbean doesn't really want you to keep its pool towels, but the company will no longer penalize passengers who don't return towels before disembarkation. Previously, passengers were charged $25 per towel for any pool towel not returned before the end of their cruise.

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor and Ashley Kosciolek, Associate Editor